Alright. So I am picky.
There. I’ve said it. I’m picky.
I like things a certain way and that includes my text messaging app. I’ve gone through a handful of them and I’m going to run down some of the pros and cons of each. Spoiler alert… one actually really surprised me!
Let’s get to it, then.
Messenger is a solid app. It works well and I love the use of color. The app puts all of your text messages into one list and used colored circles or images to indicate who you’re chatting with. If you have a group message, everybody gets a different color and that means that you won’t be confused about who is saying what. That’s super-important for me. Unfortunately, Messenger falls short on options. There are practically no real options besides the basic notification sound, vibration, and welp, that’s about it.
Bottom Line: If you like a text messaging app that is simple with no frills, go with Messenger.
Textra is great. I used it for quite a while without the desire to change. It has a fantastic integrated animated GIF searcher and allows for a lot of customization. It’s pretty clean, although not as visually appealing as Google’s Messenger. (Man, I’m looking at Messenger now and it just looks so nice. I’m wishing it had more options. Step up your game, Google!) Textra’s high marks come from the fact that it can easily be changed and has lots of options. For example, let’s say I want conversations with family to always be a certain color, I can program that to happen. I can make conversations have specific ringtones, as well. I can skin the whole thing dark or light if I want, too. They also handle group chats wonderfully in their new update. Your group conversations can now be given a name instead of having a bunch of people listed. For example, let’s say you’ve got a fantasy football group that you talk smack to. Name that group Fantasy Football and it’ll show up cleanly in the app. My downfall was with what I mentioned above in the Google Messenger. I like colors for group chats and they didn’t have individual colors per person.
Bottom Line: I used this a lot. It’s solid. I moved on to the one below and it surprised me.
I know a lot of people just ignore the stock apps on their phones. Don’t do that with Verizon Message+. It’s actually a really good app that gives you a lot of customization options. From the start, you get the benefit of your messages being backed up in the cloud. That’s a perk in itself because if you get a new phone, you can quickly recover the majority of them quickly by reloading this app. In addition, you don’t even have to have service to send a text message. Wi-Fi is all you’ll need. Heck, you can even use your computer to send a text message from your own number. I mentioned customization and there’s a lot of it. You have the ability to change: bubble style, bubble color, backgrounds, avatar color, font size and style, emoji style, tones, LED color (if your device supports this), and more. What’s even better is that you can do this globally and on a per-conversation basis. Not only does it have your basic abilities such as camera and gallery, it also has the ability to send users your real-time location, create a collage, or even do a GIF search with the ‘media search’ option. There are always a couple of downsides and for the Message+ app, I don’t love the way the camera and gallery are handled. There are a few improvements that can be made to make them a little more polished. Otherwise, it’s been a really solid app.
Bottom Line: I was surprised. This is a fantastic app with lots of options. While it has a few flaws, mainly in the camera and gallery, it’s still a solid option that should be considered.
I don’t have a lot of experience with many others, but there are a few. Chomp SMS had a lot of options, but if I recall, I couldn’t do the different colored individuals in groups. If it wasn’t that, something else pushed me away. Hangouts from Google is a decent choice if you want a no-frills solution, like Messenger. I thought Allo was going to be a text messaging app, but it wasn’t. It was more like a WhatsApp where you need to sign up for the service. Neither are really true SMS apps. I don’t have a lot of experience, but a lot of people also use Handcent. I downloaded it briefly and it looks polished. The camera and gallery open to your native apps (big props for this). The group messaging does an okay job differentiating between people, but it isn’t visible enough for me. I also don’t love ads, which I’m assuming you can pay to turn off.
Ultimately, this just comes down to personal preference. Hopefully you can make a better decision based on the reviews above. I have been using Message+ for a while now. I think it’s a nice mix of features and functionality. Do you have a favorite app for messaging on Android? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (TT_7).